George Fernandes prediction over China as No.1 threat to India, proved him right

The ongoing standoff between India and China at Doklam shows no sign of ending. China and India have been locked in a bitter confrontation over the road construction in Doklam area.

And since this stand-off began, each side has reinforced its troops and called on the other to back down. China is reported to have mobilised large number of soldiers in Tibet and transported tones of ammunition in the region. India has also increased its preparedness in the Sikkim sector, though emphasis is on resolving the standoff diplomatically.

The mounting military tensions at Doklam, the triboundary area connecting Bhutan, China, and India, have generated the impression that India and China are going to repeat their 1962 war.

Before it was assumed that Pakistan is only the biggest threat to India but now China entered as a competitor in testing India’s patience. Though China’s sudden stand over Doklam issue and India seemed to be unexpected but there was no surprise in this.

Yes, it was predicted by our Former Defence Minister George Fernandes. He identified China as the “potential threat number one”, 19 years ago. He had expressed this during a Television interview and he was criticized by the people from all quarters. But it shows he had the great foresight and through which he predicted China as the potential threat to India.

This is how Fernandes predicted China as the biggest threat to India, in a right way

Fernandes, in his television interview, had clearly spoken about China’s string of pearls policy to encircle India.

According to George Fernandes, China has provided Pakistan with both missile as well as nuclear and he explained how China has its nuclear weapons stockpiled in Tibet right along our borders.

“On the eastern frontier, the Chinese have trained and equipped the Myanmar’s Army… From 1,70,000 (six years ago), its strength today is 4,50,000 and by the turn of the century, it will be half a million. Myanmar’s population is only 42 million,” Fernandes had said explaining Chinese plan of action in detail.

Fernandes also claimed that China had renovated 11 airstrips in Tibet to house new-generation Sukhoi combat aircraft. Based on his assessment of Beijing’s strategic approach towards New Delhi, George Fernandes insisted that China must be perceived as a threat by “any person who is concerned with India’s security.”

“China has taken them (Coco Islands – where China has now developed a military base) on loan, where there is a surveillance establishment which is monitoring India,” Fernandes had said.

Fernandes remarks were viewed also in the context of the Chinese Dong Feng missile, which was the first such missile under the possession of Beijing which was capable of striking targets deep in Indian Territory. However, many international experts refuted this analogy.

The remark by Fernandes had created controversy in political and international circle. He was criticized for rising remarks against China.

China responded to this view and said it was absolutely ridiculous and unworthy of refutation.

Looking at the recent developments in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (along the China-Pakistan-Economic Corridor) and Djibouti prove beyond doubt that Fernandes was right in his assessment. Chinese troops are present in the PoK while Beijing had opened its military base in Djibouti.

George Fernandes was the only person who made this remark and predicted China as the number1 potential threat to India in a less than two months after taking charge as the Defence Minister of India.

Sitaram Yechury of the CPI(M) had said, “He should tell us how within a matter six weeks the threat perception has changed so dramatically.”

Fernandes had explained in his interview the reason why perception about China (not being a threat) was not based on ground reality. “I think there is a reluctance to face the reality that China’s intentions need to be questioned,” he had said.

There have been consistent Chinese efforts at increasing its military capability in the Tibet region. According to Defence Ministry’s annual report 1985-86, “China has considerably improved its tactical position in Tibet.

Documents from Defence Ministry upholds Fernandes remark

  • According to report from Ministry of Defence in the year 1987-88, China maintained significantly higher force levels compared to the past.
  • The supply of weapons to the India’s neighbourhood countries would hamper the process of de-escalation of regional tensions, said the annual report from Defence Ministry in the year 1990-91.
  • Another from 1990s, said, “Pakistan’s acquisition of sophisticated weapon systems, including missiles, from China has a direct bearing on India’s security.”
  • Defence Ministry annual report for 1997-98 said, “The progress China has made in recent years in augmenting its nuclear arsenal and missile capabilities will continue to have relevance for India’s security concerns.”
  • The 2016-17 annual report of the Defence Ministry also mentions the latest restructuring of the People’s Liberation Army of China with concern. It said, “China initiated significant restructuring of the People’s Liberation Army, aimed at stronger control by the Party (the Communist Party of China)”.

However the present development and arrogant activities of China over Dhoklam standoff itself has upheld George Fernandes remarks of the Chinese danger were absolutely right.

Source: India Today

Anusha Shetty